AppShastra – App Marketing Guide Series #3 – App Icon Optimization

app icon optimization

Moving on, from App Description in Series #2 we are now into Series #3 where we will discuss another important aspect of App Optimization – App Icon Optimization. App stores have specific templates, specific set standards for the icons that apps need to have. Here we would discuss all that is required to make your app icon a success in the app stores.

App icon is your first opportunity to create favourable impression. It is your brand and product identity and it is going to be used in lots of places – yes, even offline; as and when required. An app icon enables the users to understand the app personality. The colors and shapes that are used in the icon should be used after through consideration. The icon enables your users to relate and identify your app from millions of others that are available in app stores. You cannot afford to be lost. Your icon needs to stand out.

Let’s read a few tips on designing a great icon for your app.

#1 Use an Artistic Interpretation

Don’t use pictures in your icon. Photographic details are not visible in small sizes. Interpret the main idea of your app in an artistic and abstract way. Take the help of experienced designers. Go through the stores and find out the category your app belongs to. Research the way top app icons have been designed.

#2 Don’t Use Words

Why ? Because you need to use the icons in different sizes and some of them are very small. In smaller sizes the text becomes unreadable.

But if you are a magazine app and it is absolutely essential for you to have text in your icon, then you would do better if you go for an icon extension instead of the whole icon at places where you need smaller sized icon. Smaller icon of “Better Homes and Gardens” would have resembled  a red and white icon with scrambled-up unreadable text. Icon extension with the same color palette of white and red works wonderfully here. It is consistent, yet not messy.

 #3  Keep the icon simple.

Cut out the flab. Keep what is absolutely essential for your app. The message that the icon of your app conveys has to be uncomplicated. It needs to be simple, bold yet friendly. You need to communicate the core idea of your product and services with minimalistic attitude.

Here, in the second example when you see ‘5×5′ in an icon, you get nothing. I mean no offense to the app developers who developed it; yes the icon is simple but insipid. No ideas spring up in your head as to what that app is all about when you see its icon.

#4  Stay Unique

Screaming Game App Icons

Screaming Game App Icon of ‘Clash of Clans’ is a hit. There are other screaming game icons jostling in the same space. Are you designing a game? Do you have a screaming game app icon? Make it distinct.

It pays to stay unique. With thousands of apps being added everyday to app stores it is increasingly getting difficult to stay unique, but you must; for user recall as well as for your positioning. Before finalising on an app icon do your research properly.

Make sure the icon you decide on doesn’t resemble someone else’s icon. Path and Pinterest apparently went to war over their “P”. So if you are thinking of launching your app, and if your icon is a similar “P”- you and your designing team lack imagination. You will probably drown in the sea of apps.

#5  Choose the colors wisely

This is basic. You need to choose the colors of your app icon and the color palette of the app inside, wisely. The color palette you have inside the app should match the colors in the icon. Ensure that the icon has colors that stand out from the background the stores have. Test your icon against both light and dark backgrounds.  Having additional border can help. You can never predict which color’s background the user will use.

#6  Keep the sizes in mind

You need to submit the icon in different sizes, therefore it is essential that the icon is designed with utmost care. Android app launcher icons need to be designed in different sizes of 48 px, 72 px, 96 px, 144 px , 192 px & 512 px.


Within android ecosystem there are different icons with different size requirements and different focal area. You need to be very attentive when sizing your icons.

For App Stores, the developer library has the sizes of icons you need for different iphones. The App icon you need to submit for iOS should be of 1024 x 1024 pixels. All images need to be in PNG format. Interlaced PNGs should be avoided. For all of the different iphone and ipad devices that apple has, you need to supply separate icons for Spotlight search results and Settings. You can refer Asset catalogue help for more information.

#7  No more than two accordion folds

If you are going for accordion folds to add extra dimension to your icon, make sure you don’t go overboard. More than two folds look unappealing. For app icons on Google Play, Google has specific design guidelines which you can read over here.

You can also watch an amazing video on designing icons by designer Michael Flarup here.

Closing Lines

App icons create the first impressions. Make sure they are good. You can go for A/B testing to decide the best option of icon from different options you create. You can ask for feedback from colleagues, family and friends. Search and research the app stores for ideas. A well designed icon helps your cause in ASO.

Make the app icons meant for android and app stores similar. If you are inexperienced, make sure you take the help of professionals when you get your app icon designed. You will save a lot of time and heartache. OpenXcell does a good job of designing and developing apps.

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